A final defendant has been jailed after a young man was fatally shot in broad daylight near a children’s playground in revenge for a robbery he had nothing to do with.
James Nicholson, 36, of no fixed address, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday to a total of 13 years’ imprisonment for manslaughter, being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and being concerned in the supply of Class B drugs.
He was the last of a group of men to be sentenced for killing 22-year-old Imani Allaway-Muir, who had been in the “wrong place at the wrong time” when he was shot dead.
Demetrios Kyriacou, 35, of Liverpool Road, Islington, was jailed for life to serve a minimum of 31 years at the Old Bailey on November 25 after previously being found guilty of murder.
Nathaniel Reece, 41, of Southgate Road, Islington - who fired the gun – was also jailed for life after he pleaded guilty to murder. He was ordered to serve a minimum of 33 years and two months.
Matthew Hardy, 36, of Six Acres Estate, Islington was jailed for seven-and-a-half years and Darren Dredge, 41, for eight-and-a-half years for the manslaughter of Imani, after being found not guilty of murder.
Hardy was given an additional 18 month sentence for conspiring to supply Class B drugs.
Following the trial, Kyriacou was charged and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and possession of criminal property, and Dredge to conspiracy to supply Class B drugs and possession of criminal property. They were also sentenced for these offences today, with the terms to run concurrently.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil John, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “Imani was a young man who had his whole life ahead of him, but by simply being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, he was tragically killed in a horrific act of violence that took place in broad daylight just metres away from a children’s playground and a football pitch which was full of children.
“Kyriacou had refused the police’s help after the robbery and decided to take matters into his own hands, recruiting his friends to take part in his deadly revenge plan. The joint actions of these men resulted in the execution of Imani, who paid with his life for a robbery he had no involvement in.”
In a statement read to the court during the sentencing, Imani’s mother Keetha described her “unimaginable” pain over losing her son.
“Imani was the ‘glue’ to our family and loved by so many,” she said. “The whole family are so damaged by Imani’s death.
“A mother should never have to bury their son. I carry so many emotions I didn’t even think was possible to feel. Even smiling and just to breathe hurts most days.
“July 4 will haunt me for the rest of my life. I try my hardest not to revisit that day but every time I close my eyes all I see is my son’s lifeless body covered in blood being worked on by the emergency services.
“I was unable to hold him or comfort him as he took his last breath. The worst pain I have ever had to endure was not being able to kiss him, hold his hand or assure him I’m there.
“The nature of my son’s murder feels 100 times worse because he was an innocent young man who went to Westbourne estate with no knowledge of the robbery that had taken place and what was going to happen to him.
“It kills me to think how scared Imani was when he saw the defendants appear with a gun and then shoot him.
“Imani will forever be missed, loved and remembered and our hearts will be forever broken until we are back with our precious Imani.”
The court heard that shortly after 12.50pm on July 4, 2020, Kyriacou was robbed by four unknown men on Carville Street, Finsbury Park. Kyriacou suffered head injuries and had his Rolex watch, cash and iPhone stolen. The suspects drove off in a black BMW.
Officers attended the scene and spoke to Kyriacou who was with his blue Range Rover. He said he believed the suspects had a knife and he did not know them, but he did not wish to speak further about it.
Following the robbery, arrangements were made for the defendants to meet at Hardy’s home address on Six Acres Estate in Islington, where Kyriacou was living at the time.
At the flat, the defendants located Kyriacou’s stolen property by using the ‘find my iPhone’ app.
Once they had the location, they drove to the area and encircled it. A loaded firearm was also collected en route.
Kyriacou and Reece were the last to arrive in the area shortly before 3.20pm. They got out of Kyriacou’s blue Range Rover on Faraday Close and went down an alleyway where a group of people, and the stolen property, were located.
Seconds later, Reece shot Imani multiple times on Roman Way, Islington. They then ran back to the Range Rover and the vehicles, which had brought people to the scene from the Six Acres Estate rendezvous, left the area as quickly as possible. Nicholson later collected the gun from Reece and disposed of it. It has not been found.
Police, the London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance attended the scene and found Imani lying on the ground in a children’s playground about 20m from the scene of the shooting.
He was unconscious but breathing, but despite the best efforts of the emergency services, Imani was sadly pronounced dead shortly before 3.50pm, about half-an-hour minutes he had been shot.
A post-mortem examination later revealed he had four bullet wounds to his body.
Officers searched the area of the shooting and found 14 bullet casings as well as an iPhone, two Nokia mobile phones and a snapped SIM card. The phones and the SIM card belonged to Kyriacou and formed part of the property stolen during the earlier robbery.
A black BMW was also recovered by police at the scene, which was the same one used by the suspects in the earlier robbery.
However, detectives established that Imani was not involved in the robbery of Kyriacou.
Tragically, he had arrived at the location where the stolen property was located moments before Kyriacou and Reece appeared.
When Reece opened fire, Imani was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The court heard that while it was Reece who discharged the firearm and took Imani’s life, the other defendants were all jointly responsible for his death, because in their different ways they knowingly assisted and encouraged the commission of the offence.
Detectives proved the defendants’ involvement by piecing together CCTV, mobile phone data and ANPR and speaking to people who witnessed the shocking attack.
Kyriacou, Reece, Hardy and Dredge were all arrested in July 2020 shortly after the murder, while Nicholson was arrested in February 2021, before being charged with murder.
In addition to the murder conviction, Kyriacou was also sentenced to 10-and-a-half years’ for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, three-and-a-half years for conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, and three years nine months for possessing criminal property. All sentences to run concurrent to his life sentence.
Det Ch Insp John said: “We were determined to bring Imani’s killers to justice and my team worked tirelessly behind the scenes gathering overwhelming evidence to convict the five defendants. These men will now each serve a lengthy period behind bars for their cold and callous actions.
“There is never an excuse for violence, especially violence using an illegal firearm, and everyone in the Met remains committed to tackling violence in all its forms and removing dangerous weapons, and those who carry them, from the streets of London.”